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Howard T. Glasser

Howard T. Glasser Obituary
87, of Freetown, MA, passed away on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at Charlton Memorial Hospital. He was born in Brooklyn, and spent his youth preparing for a life as an artist in a classic NY line-up of schools, the High School of Music & Art, the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the Art Students League of New York. His first — and only — formal lettering teacher was Arnold Bank at the League while still at the High School, although he never stopped learning from whosever work his eyes found. Howard worked as a commercial artist throughout the 1950s and into the '60s, specializing in lettering, book jacket and logo design. In 1955, he began teaching calligraphy at Cooper Union in New York. In the '60s he was offered an Assistant Professorship at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, but had to confess that he'd never gone to college. Hired anyway, he taught at college-level for the rest of his career, next at University of Rhode Island, and was recruited in 1970 by Alex Nesbitt to teach at Southeast Massachusetts University (now University of Massachusetts Dartmouth). He taught there until his "official" retirement in 2001, but remained an active presence, continuing to teach for years after that. Howard spoke and wrote about his teaching philosophies many times, in articles and his self-published booklets of musings, poetry and graphics (several of which are in the Harrison collection in San Francisco). One point he stated in different ways several times is, "I have always found it impossible to separate the teaching of calligraphy from that of drawing and design." He saw lettering as a great basis for understanding the elements of all visual design. Howard is also acclaimed from here to Glasgow and beyond for his famous Eisteddfod, the annual, traditional folk music festival which he started at SMU/UMass in 1972 and ran for over 25 years. He was never a musician or even a singer himself, but a catalyst for musicians. In 1960, he began his travels to Scotland to record obscure traditional music, sort-of an Alan Lomax for the British Isles — over 200 hours of tapes, some of which are in the Library of Congress. In the introduction to the delightful Aathegither, the Works of Howard Glasser, 2001, a catalogue of his retirement exhibition at UMass, Paul Shaw wrote, ". . . it is the unity of the arts, their common root in the human urge to create, that has animated Howard throughout his life. [He] has declared that it is the tactile and physical aspects of these activities that are 'things of great value in society.' And his own work is proof of this truth."
A Graveside Service will be held on Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 10am at the Hebrew Cemetery, McMahon Street , Fall River. All are invited to attend. Memorial donations in his memory can be made to the Howard T. Glasser Archives of Folk Music and Letter Arts c/o UMASS Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Road, Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300. To light a memorial candle, or for cemetery directions go to www.hathawayfunerals.com or call 508 673-0781. All arrangements have been entrusted to the care of the Hathaway Home for Funerals, 1813 Robeson Street, Fall River.
Published in The Providence Journal on June 8, 2017
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